A few weeks ago I wrote about a venue I was dying to visit and a band I adored though I had never seen them live – the Towne Crier Café and the Clancy Tradition. I have good news on both fronts.
Despite the troubling report that The Town Crier Café’s future was uncertain due to an expired lease, the music at the legendary venue will continue in its current location for the time being. They have a busy schedule of shows through April. I better get moving on up to Pawling.
And as for the Clancy Tradition, I finally got to meet them and hear them play. They are every bit as charming, lovely, and talented in person as they are on their 1998 recording of a live concert from the Towne Crier. That recording gave fans the most beautiful versions of two of my favorite songs, “Emigrant Eyes” and “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms.” Nobody sings those two songs with more feeling and clarity than the group’s vocalist, Liadain Clancy. In fact, I’m listening to them now on repeat. My world stops when I hear her sing, but I better snap out of it and get to writing because there is so much more I want to tell you about this group.
The Clancy Tradition started with Pat, Eugene, and Brendan Clancy, three musical brothers from Armagh who called themselves the Irish Ramblers. They toured the United States in the early 1960s, and while Brendan returned home to Ireland, his brothers settled in New York to raise musical children. “The kiddies” as Eugene calls them, are his daughter Rosemary (fiddle and mandolin), his son John (upright bass), and Pat’s daughter Liadain (vocals). Add in a close family friend and heck of an accordion player, Michael Melanophy, and you’ve got a remarkable dynamic that can be attributed to musical genes, a lot of practice, and a very close bond among the musicians.
A conversation with the Clancy Tradition about music quickly turns into a conversation about family. This is true of most of the Irish musicians I speak to, but it was especially poignant when I chatted with Eugene and Rosemary Clancy. Eugene reminisced about his childhood home where his mother welcomed Irish musicians after mass and they played all afternoon. When Rose spoke about her involvement in the musical tradition she simply said that it was a great privilege growing up in a family that surrounded her with music. Then they picked up their instruments and played. The tunes spoke volumes about tradition and family bonds. The Clancys gave me just what I needed after the bustle of St. Patrick’s Day when the music and cheer are plentiful, and it is easy to forget just how lucky we are to have mothers, fathers, grandmas and grandpas who gave us the gift of Irish music in our lives.
The Clancy Tradition recently made their return to the Towne Crier Café and will be announcing more shows in our area soon. Details at www.theclancytradition.com.
For your post St. Patrick’s Day fix of live Irish music check out Allison Barber at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on 3/21, Denis McCarthy and John Walsh at An Beal Bocht Café in the Bronx on 3/23, and Michael Brunnock and Brendan O’Shea at the Irish Arts Center in NYC on 3/23.